The Christian Culinary Academy hosted the 10th Annual Christian Chefs International Conference which included a student culinary demonstration featuring a six-course meal. The academy, a small culinary school located at the north end of town in the Christian Conference Center, has hosted the conference for five of the previous six years.

The conference not only allowed the Christian Culinary Academy to showcase its program and teach visiting chefs something new, but it also gave students an opportunity to network and showcase their skills in front of potential future employers. The fully accredited culinary school has 12 enrolled students in their one year certificate program. President of the Christian Chefs International and the Christian Culinary Academy Ira Krizo likes the small cohort.

“I don’t want it to be a huge program,” said Krizo, emphasizing the need for the program adding that there are “a lot of drugs and alcohol in the industry.”

Krizo went to culinary school in New York where he discovered a need for a faith-based formal culinary education where students can focus on “shared faith, patience, kindness and thinking highly of others.”

Small class sizes also allow talented guest instructors from Cannon Beach institutions like Newman’s to provide lessons and students can intern at places like the Stephanie Inn, as did returning alumni intern Jordan Neahring.

And what did Neahring learn from working at the Stephanie Inn?

How to create a menu in under an hour with unknown ingredients for starters.

“Often times you are using ingredients you have on hand, sometimes you’ve got 30 minutes to come up with an amuse-bouche,” said Neahring.

Another student commented how she had just returned from a mission in Peru where learned how to prepare traditional Peruvian foods.

Students will go on to serve in all manner of culinary positions including at restaurants, in catering or even rescue facilities and camps. Krizo wants to prepare his students to make great food and spread love and kindness in all walks of life.

Once the demonstration started the audience quickly started to feel like a more traditional dining room. Krizo introduced each of the six dishes the students composed in front of a camera for the audience of around 50 people.

Two students constructed each dish under the camera which allowed observers in the back of the room to see the detail of each dish via a large flat screen. The remaining students served the dishes to each of the diners and then scrambled back to the kitchen to finish preparing the remaining courses.

The first dish was an amuse bouche of crab in a pastry cup. The dungeness crab was served on a bed of microgreens seasoned with a vinaigrette and two different seasoned oils, one lemon and one chili. The audience devoured the starter plate while remaining attentive to the demonstration, which also served as a student pop-quiz with Krizo throwing out questions like, “what’s the difference between a emulsification and a regular vinaigrette?”

How to get the puff pastry into the cup shape. Pro tip — use the underside of a muffin tin to bake a perfect pastry cup.

Conference attendees included professional chefs from all over the country. Before the evening student demonstration, visiting pastry chef Bob Vaningan of Pensacola, Florida, deftly molded colorful fondant into carrots, Easter bunnies and swans. A triple layer buttermilk cake with buttercream frosting was half eaten on the demonstration table from Vaningan’s decorating demonstration.

“Most of us are leaders in bakeries, restaurants, or hotels. We’re here to love on each other, pray for each other and teach each other,” Vaningan said.

Several attendees, including Vaningan, were members of mega churches, some of which serve more than 60,000 meals annually.

“I know some of your facilities are way too small, sometimes you have to buy value added items, but some items are less expensive,” Krizo said during a discussion comparing the value of homemade or store-bought hollandaise sauce.

Many of the attendees are trying to feed a lot of people with on a budget. The convention helps other people with limited budgets pick up useful information. One ministry in attendance saves $40,000 per year by baking their own bread, information which surprised many of the attendees.

The students sourced ingredients locally and seasonally. The first draft of the squash soup used an out-of-season squash served in the baked half of an acorn squash, but once the students penciled out exactly how many boxes of squash would be needed they quickly changed direction, choosing instead to serve the soup in ceramic bowls.

The audience loved the first dish, with almost all comments highly positive. Only one diner had a critique and suggested they add more crab. The second dish, a composed salad of prosciutto wrapped greens dressed with caramelized shallots and balsamic, garnished with oranges, candied walnuts and Rogue Creamery blue cheese, was equally appreciated. Remaining courses in the demonstration included a lemon meringue sorbet palate cleanser, bacon-wrapped filet mignon, and of course, dessert, which was cake and ice cream.

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